Monday afternoon turned out to be a peak baseball day, as the National League featured two Game 163 division tiebreakers. The early game saw the Milwaukee Brewers upset the Chicago Cubs to claim the NL Central title. A short while later, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the presumptive favorites for the NL West, staved off the Colorado Rockies. Baseball fans couldn’t ask for much more.
As an impartial observer, I found these matchups pretty stressful and not just for the sport’s sake. No, I saw the Yankees’ Wild Card Game playing out in both games, and my blood pressure started to climb. While the action unfolded differently in the two bouts, the sense of uneasiness pervaded.
Take the Brewers - Cubs game for example. This one was jam-packed with tension. The Brewers jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead, but a big home run by Anthony Rizzo off Jhoulys Chacin tied the game in the fifth inning. This fast-paced game culminated with Chicago’s relief staff falling apart, as Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun delivered the decisive blows. Just like that, the Cubs found themselves in the Wild Card Game.
It’s not terribly difficult to see the Yankees and Athletics trading leads in the early innings of the game. Both clubs have high-powered offenses, after all. It’s also not hard to picture one of New York’s top relievers having a bad day. An ill-timed David Robertson home run or Zach Britton walk could end the season. A close, fast-paced showdown like the Brewers and Cubs had would probably trim years off my life expectancy.
On the other hand, the Dodgers took control of their game and never looked back. A pair of home runs off the bats of Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy put Los Angeles up big time. Add in the fact that Walker Buehler was nearly unhittable, and the Rockies never really had a chance.
Imagine that scenario unfolding in New York. It would be pretty gut-wrenching to watch the A’s rack up some early runs while the Bombers struggle to find themselves at the plate. It’s not like that hasn’t happened before either. The offense can occasionally go radio silent. It was just a little over a week ago that the team managed three runs on three hits in the first inning against the Orioles, then totally vanished, collecting only one hit over the next eight frames. A situation like that would make for a frustrating Wild Card Game.
Who knows what will happen on Wednesday night. It could play out like the Game 163 showings, or something entirely unexpected. The only certainty here is that the one-game playoff is not good for my health.